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Top 10 Movies Starring Johnny Depp

Posted on June 25, 2019 by John Harris

Johnny Depp has been among the world’s most famous actors for decades. He started off as an anonymous guitarist and worked his way up to some of Hollywood’s most successful blockbusters. He is not just a handsome guy that has never left his grunge phase but an actual artist who has managed to prove his talent multiple times. 

Just remember a vast number of Tim Burton’s movies he has starred in. Fun fact: he was once asked during an interview if he watched his own movies. When he said no, the interviewer responded: “You must have seen few Burton’s movies.”

If you are a fan of Johnny’s the way I am, this article will amuse you as much as baccarat and slot machines amuse gamblers. In the following lines, you will see a list of the best movies he has ever starred in, according to, well, me (spoiler alert: “The Pirates of the Caribbean” have not made the final cut).

10. Finding Neverland

This drama movie from 2004 tells a story of a successful playwright James M. Barrie (Johnny Depp) and how the story of Peter Pan came to be. The movie is situated in the 20th century London, where Barrie meets a single mother (Kate Winslet) and her four sons. He quickly befriends them and starts entertaining the boys by telling them stories and feeding their imagination. He draws inspiration for his latest play from the family and finally creates Peter Pan.

9. Secret Window

This one is based on the Stephen King’s story “Secret Window, Secret Garden” featured in his collection “Four Past Midnight.” Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is a recently divorced writer who lives in a secluded cottage in the woods. Depressed because of his divorce, he spends most of his time sleeping. His daily routine is interrupted one day by a man named John Shooter (John Turturro), who claims Rainey has stolen his story. From that point on, we witness a struggle of a depressed man desperately trying to prove Shooter wrong, until he finally descends into madness.

8. Sleepy Hollow

The first movie directed by Tim Burton to appear on this list, “Sleepy Hollow,” is a movie version of the famous story of Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), a detective who travels to Sleepy Hollow to investigate recent decapitations. At the same time, we see a headless horseman taunting the town and Crane’s desperate attempts at finding a logical explanation for the occurrences. Other than Johnny Depp, this movie features Christina Ricci in the role of Katrina Van Tassel, Ichabod’s love interest, who encounters problems of her own.

7. Chocolat

“Chocolat” is a heart-touching romantic drama set in a small French town a single mother who leads a life of a nomad (Juliette Binoche) has chosen for her and her daughter’s new home. As soon as they arrive, the woman, Vianne, opens a chocolate shop. However, since the movie takes place during Lent, Vianne and her daughter are frowned upon by religious and conservative town people. As the story unfolds, the monotonous lives of local people are interrupted by another nomad, Roux (Johnny Depp), who arrives at the town on his boat. Vianne and Roux have to face a challenge of accustoming to the town and to one another. 

6. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Another Burton’s movie featured on this list is a combination of a musical and a horror movie. This was actually the first time Johnny Depp really sang in a movie, as he was merely lip-syncing in “Cry Baby.” This dark musical features Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd, a barber who returns to London after having been in exile for 15 years for a crime he had not committed. He meets Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter), an owner of a meat pie shop and starts collaborating with her while planning his revenge against the judge Turpin — the man who had destroyed his family 15 years earlier. The events of the movie take place in Victorian London, and the audience gets to marvel at the way Burton depicts the life of the era.

5. From Hell

It is the end of the nineteenth century, and there is a twisted murdered on the loose in London. The mystery man has been on a killing spree for a while, murdering prostitutes. Inspector Frederick Abberline (Johnny Depp) meets one of them, Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) while collecting evidence in an attempt to solve the case. This movie depicts the gory events of murders committed by Jack the Ripper, a man who claimed that he had created the twentieth century.

4. Blow

“Blow” tells a story of the 1970s cocaine market in the United States. George Jung (Johnny Depp) is a small-town boy who moves to California and starts his drug-dealing career by selling marijuana. Based on actual events, this movie depicts Jung’s journey from a carefree young man to Pablo Escobar’s assistant. While you know what he does is morally wrong, you cannot help but root for him, as you witness his relationships with his parents, his wife, and his daughter slowly falling apart as he descends from a life in riches into a void of prison, self-loathing, and betrayal.

3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) is a young man in his twenties who assumes the role of a caretaker after his father commits suicide. He watches over his mentally disabled younger brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio), while at the same time caring for his sisters and his morbidly obese mother. Although no one forces him to assume the role of a father figure, Gilbert cannot help himself, as he is a kind-hearted man who puts the needs of his loved ones before his own. 

However, the pressure of the life he leads takes a toll on him, as he starts to lose his patience when love in the form of a young woman (Juliette Lewis) enters his life. In spite of being the leading actor in this movie, Johnny Depp was outshined by DiCaprio’s brilliant performance as a lovable mentally disabled teenager. DiCaprio received an Academy Award nomination for the first time for his role in this movie.

2. Arizona Dream

In this Emir Kusturica’s masterpiece, Johnny Depp plays the role of Axel Blackmar, a young man from New York who goes to Arizona to attend his uncle’s wedding and decides to stay there. In Arizona, he meets two women — Elaine Stalker (Faye Dunaway) — and her daughter — Grace Stalker (Lili Taylor) — and finds himself in the middle of a strange relationship of two peculiar women. This surrealistic indie drama is permeated by Axel’s dream of an Eskimo who catches a rare fish, whose meaning is not revealed until the very end of the movie. “Arizona Dream” is a movie for all of those who enjoy surrealism and great music, as it features “In the Death Car” by Iggy Pop.

1. Edward Scissorhands

“Edward Scissorhands” is the third Burton’s movie featuring Johnny Depp that has made its way on this list. It portrays the life of Edward (Johnny Depp), a naive, awkward, and kind man that has been constructed by a scientist. As his creator dies before he is able to finish his work, Edward is left with scissors for hands. He lives in an isolated mansion, and hadn’t it been for a certain Avon lady, he probably would have stayed there for the rest of his life. However, she brings him home to meet her family. At first, everything seems to be going well for Edward who tries to fit in and lead an ordinary, suburban life, until he becomes a threat to some town people. Featuring Winona Ryder as Kim, Edward’s love interest, this movie tells a moving story of a man too good for this world.

While there are many movies starring Depp’s that qualify for a top 10 list, these are the ones that I find to be the longest lasting ones in the memory of the audience. Each of them leaves a strong impression and makes you wonder, which is precisely what art is all about.

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